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  1. 1. Shane Baz | RHP
    Shane Baz
    Born: Jun 17, 1999
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'3" Wt.: 190
    Drafted/Signed: HS--Tomball, Texas, 2017 (1st round).
    Signed By: Wayne Mathis (Pirates).
    Minors: 5-4 | 2.06 ERA | 113 SO | 13 BB | 79 IP

    BA Grade: 65/Medium

    Track Record: If the Pirates had traded Baz for Chris Archer as a one-for-one deal, the Rays would have reason to be pleased. The fact that Baz was the player to be named in a trade that also included Tyler Glasnow and Austin Meadows makes it one of the most lopsided deals of the 21st century. When younger, Baz struggled to throw strikes, was prone to over-throwing and had a pronounced head whack. His delivery has calmed down, as much from improved core strength as any significant tweaks to his delivery. He’s allayed concerns that he would be too wild to start by developing into a consistent strike-thrower. After throwing strikes on 59% of his pitches in 2018, Baz upped that figure to 68% in 2021. His 8.7 strikeouts for every walk led all minor league pitchers with 70 or more innings. After pitching for Team USA in the Olympics, Baz made his MLB debut on Sept. 20. After three regular-season starts, he stepped right into the Rays’ playoff rotation.

    Scouting Report: As a Pirates prospect, Baz threw two-seam fastballs and curveballs, which didn’t really fit his skillset. Now he blows hitters away with four-seam fastballs and sliders. Baz had both those pitches in high school—he touched 98 at his best in high school and flashed a plus slider--but the Rays made a point of getting him to re-emphasize them. Baz has one of the best fastballs in baseball. He can touch 100 mph and carries 96-97 mph throughout his starts. The life and movement on his four-seam fastball is just as exceptional as its velocity. His 11.2 inches of vertical movement is among the most of any MLB starting pitcher. The combination of velocity and life means he can consistently attack hitters in the strike zone, knowing that hitters have trouble squaring him up, especially in the upper-third of the strike zone. Baz’s mid-80s plus slider is a relatively tight pitch with lots of gyro spin. It has solid depth but not a lot of tilt. His low-80s fringe-average curveball can be effective, but he almost always throws it as an early-count surprise to steal a strike against hitters not expecting it. Baz’s high-80s changeup remains the most important item on his to-do list. It lacks the deception or movement profile at this time to be a true weapon. If he keeps it away from lefties, it can produce foul balls and grounders, but if he misses his spot, it can be pounded.

    The Future: The Rays consistently are slow to promote their prospects, but after Baz earned a spot in the club’s postseason rotation, he should be a key part of Tampa Bay’s rotation in 2022 and beyond. He has front-of-the-rotation potential and the highest upside of any Rays starting pitching prospect in years thanks to his rare combination of premium stuff and plus control.

    Scouting Grades: Fastball: 80. Slider: 60. Curveball: 45. Changeup: 50. Control: 60

  2. 2. Josh Lowe | OF
    Josh Lowe
    Born: Feb 2, 1998
    Bats: L Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'4" Wt.: 205
    Drafted/Signed: HS--Marietta, Ga., 2016 (1st round).
    Signed By: Milt Hill.
    Minors: .291/.381/.535 | 22 HR | 26 SB | 402 AB

    BA Grade: 55/Medium

    Track Record: The 13th pick in the 2016 draft, Josh’s older brother Nate was also picked by the Rays in that year’s 13th round. Nate made it to the majors in 2019, but Josh should have a longer Rays career, as Nate was quickly traded to the Rangers. Josh made his own MLB debut in 2021 after a breakout season in Triple-A.

    Scouting Report: Lowe was one of the most improved hitters in the organization in 2021. He figured out how to shorten his swing and better use the whole field when he fell behind in counts without hindering his ability to drive the ball when he’s ahead of the pitcher. Lowe now does a better job of yanking the ball when pitchers try to bust him inside. Once a weakness, Lowe hit .434/.418/.803 on pitchers on the inner third of the strike zone at Triple-A. He still trades some batting average for power, but he has managed to find a balance and now projects as a fringe-average hitter with plus power. Every other aspect of his game is plus or better. He plays a plus center field with long gliding strides. He also has a plus arm and has turned into a threat on the basepaths. He stole 26 bases in 26 tries, leading the minors in steal success rate.

    The Future: Lowe’s step forward in 2021 should have him poised to play a role in St. Petersburg in 2022. His opportunities will largely depend on whether all of the club’s many big league outfielders are brought back, but his power, speed and defense give him the versatility to play any outfield position, although he fits best in center.

    Scouting Grades: Hit: 45. Power: 60. Speed: 70. Fielding: 60. Arm: 60.

  3. 3. Vidal Brujan | 2B/OF
    Vidal Brujan
    Born: Feb 9, 1998
    Bats: B Throws: R
    Ht.: 5'9" Wt.: 180
    Drafted/Signed: Dominican Republic, 2014.
    Signed By: Danny Santana.
    Minors: .262/.345/.440 | 12 HR | 44 SB | 389 AB

    BA Grade: 50/Medium

    Track Record: A second baseman exclusively early in his pro career, Bruján’s progression to being a utilityman reached its apex in 2021. Bruján played 15 or more games at second base, shortstop and all three outfield spots. He added six games at third base as well. Bruján also led all Triple-A hitters with 44 stolen bases.

    Scouting Report: Bruján’s athleticism and versatility is an excellent asset, but it makes it hard for him to settle in at any one spot. He can competently play almost anywhere. His hands are his weakest attribute, and he will bobble balls at times. But he has a quick first step, fluid actions and a plus, accurate arm. He turns the double play well, too. Brujan also has the range to be an above-average center fielder. Offensively, Bruján made strides in hitting the ball harder in 2021—he raised his average exit velocity by 1 mph to 87 mph. He’s unlikely to become a power hitter, but his ability to drive the ball for doubles and 10-15 home runs a year makes him a more potent offensive weapon. He continues to have above-average contact skills. He’s a better pure hitter from the left side, and shows more swing and miss as a righthanded hitter.

    The Future: Bruján reached the majors briefly in 2021, but his path to regular at-bats in St. Petersburg remains unclear. His versatility allows him to step in at multiple spots, but there’s not any spot where he’s currently better than the Rays’ MLB alternatives. He’s most likely a Swiss Army knife of a fielder whose versatility lets him get regular at-bats while playing a little of everywhere.

    Scouting Grades: Hit: 60. Power: 40. Speed: 70. Fielding: 55. Arm: 60.

  4. 4. Taj Bradley | RHP
    Taj Bradley
    Born: Mar 20, 2001
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'2" Wt.: 190
    Drafted/Signed: HS--Stone Mountain, Ga., 2018 (5th round).
    Signed By: Milt Hill.
    Minors: 12-3 | 1.83 ERA | 123 SO | 31 BB | 104 IP

    BA Grade: 55/High

    Track Record: When the Rays drafted Bradley in 2018, they knew they were getting an extremely young pitcher (he had just turned 17) with a brief track record on the mound, but one whose best was yet to come. The former outfielder has managed to exceed those lofty expectations and turn into one of the steals of the 2018 draft. In 2021, Bradley led the minors in ERA (1.83) and ranked in the top 10 in opponent’s batting average (.180) and WHIP (0.93).

    Scouting Report: Bradley keeps getting stronger while retaining the athleticism that was so enticing coming out of high school. His fastball has gotten firmer and firmer. He now sits in the mid-90s and touches 96-97. In addition to adding 3-5 mph of velocity, Bradley has begun to master a slider that better pairs with his fastball than his curveball did. He still has the curve in his arsenal, but the slider now regularly flashes plus and he’s shown he can throw it for strikes in the strike zone and get hitters to chase it out of the zone. His changeup has further to go, but it will flash average at its best. Bradley is an advanced strike-thrower. He has a good tempo to his delivery, an easy arm action and he’s starting to show the ability to self-diagnose when he loses his release point.

    The Future: The Rays have as much success as anyone in developing starting pitchers. Bradley appears to be the next in the long line. He should spend much of 2022 at Double-A. Considering the Rays’ tendency to move pitchers slowly, a late 2023 arrival to St. Pete seems most likely.

    Scouting Grades: Fastball: 60. Slider: 60. Curveball: 40. Changeup: 50. Control: 55

  5. 5. Curtis Mead | 3B/1B
    Curtis Mead
    Born: Oct 26, 2000
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'2" Wt.: 171
    Signed By: Howard Norsetter/Roberto Aquino/Derrick Chung (Phillies).
    Minors: .321/.378/.533 | 15 HR | 11 SB | 411 AB

    BA Grade: 55/High

    Track Record: Growing up in Australia, Mead seemed destined to be an Australian rules football player. Mead’s father Tim had played in the Australian Baseball League, but according to Australia’s ABC News, Tim believed Curtis had a more promising football career ahead of him. The younger Mead decided to focus on baseball and quickly earned a spot on the Australian junior national team. He signed with the Phillies, but was quickly traded to the Rays for lefthander Cristopher Sanchez after the 2019 season. In 2021, Mead made a brief appearance in Triple-A while leading the minors with 38 doubles.

    Scouting Report: Mead has the best combination of power, bat-to-ball skills and hitting ability among Rays minor leaguers. He manages to combine some of the best average exit velocities in the Rays system (90 mph average) with the kind of contact-heavy approach (15.5% strikeout percentage) the organization covets. His level swing produces more line drives than lofted home runs, but he regularly drills balls into the gaps. Mead hasn’t found a full-time defensive home. He has fringe-average range at third base and playable hands, but his throwing action is long and unorthodox and he can’t rifle a throw without getting his feet set. Most likely he will slide to first base more regularly as he moves up, but he’s athletic enough to be a plausible left fielder. He’s a below-average runner who likely will further slow down.

    The Future: Mead will only be 21 for the entirety of the 2022 season that should see him start the year at Double-A Montgomery. He could be ready for Tampa Bay by the end of 2023.

    Scouting Grades: Hit: 60. Power: 60. Speed: 40. Fielding: 45. Arm: 40.

  6. 6. Greg Jones | SS
    Greg Jones
    Born: Mar 7, 1998
    Bats: B Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'2" Wt.: 175
    Drafted/Signed: UNC Wilmington, 2019 (1st round).
    Signed By: Joe Hastings.
    Minors: .270/.366/.482 | 14 HR | 34 SB | 274 AB

    BA Grade: 55/High

    Track Record: The Rays collect shortstops like some fans collect bobbleheads. Tampa Bay’s reasoning is that shortstops who can hit can eventually find their way to almost anywhere around the diamond. Of all the Rays’ many minor league shortstops, Jones has the loudest tools. He’s shown flashes of being a power-speed threat who could be on a development path similar to Josh Lowe. Nagging injuries have slowed Jones’ development. His draft year a shoulder injury affected his throwing, a knee injury slowed him in 2020. And a quad injury kept him from going to the Arizona Fall League this year.

    Scouting Report: There’s little Jones can’t do on a baseball field. He’s one of the Rays’ fastest runners, and he showed that plus-plus speed by swiping 34 bases in 36 tries. He also has plus raw power thanks to him having some of the best bat speed in the organization. His plus arm plays very well at shortstop—no Rays MiLB shortstop can make the highlight-level play better than Jones. While he makes the “can-you-believe-it" play, he’ll sometimes botch the routine one. His hands need to get a little softer. While he has speed and power, he’s prone to chasing pitches and doesn’t work counts all that well. His level swing isn’t necessarily geared for hitting home runs, but he hits the ball hard consistently enough to get to 15-20 of them per season..

    The Future: Jones has the highest ceiling of the Rays many shortstop prospects thanks to his speed and developing power. He always has a fallback option of developing into a rangy center fielder. Jones is ticketed to return to Double-A Montgomery in 2022.

    Scouting Grades: Hit: 45. Power: 55. Speed: 70. Fielding: 55. Arm: 60.

  7. 7. Carson Williams | SS
    Carson Williams
    Born: Jun 25, 2003
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'2" Wt.: 180
    Signed By: Jaime Jones.
    Minors: .282/.404/.436 | 0 HR | 2 SB | 39 AB

    BA Grade: 55/Extreme

    Track Record: For much of Williams’ high school career, he was seen as a promising pitcher who also played shortstop. But Williams began to make people pay attention to his bat when he hit over .400 at the World Wood Bat Association World Championships in Jupiter, Fla., before his senior season. He then was one of the best performers in California all spring. He hit .506 as a high school senior against top-notch competition. He had a solid Florida Complex League debut, but in very limited at-bats because of the Rays’ very crowded FCL roster.

    Scouting Report: Williams has developed into a well-rounded shortstop. There are some scouts skeptical about how adjustable his hands are in his swing, but he has a simple setup, load and swing and he’s shown an advanced understanding of how to work counts. He’s a hitter first, but he also has the strength and pop in his bat to hit 18-20 home runs down the road. He’s shown he is as comfortable driving the ball to the right center power alley as he is yanking it down the line. Defensively, Williams has above-average hands, solid body control and a plus arm—he was 92-95 mph as a pitcher. He sometimes relies on his arm a little too much, and his footwork and first step quickness will need to be a point of emphasis.

    The Future: The Rays have multiple shortstops ready to head to Low-A Charleston, led by Williams and Willy Vasquez. Williams has the steady heartbeat, solid internal clock and plus arm to stick at short long term, and his bat should handle a slide to third if needed.

    Scouting Grades: Hit: 50. Power: 55. Speed: 50. Fielding: 50. Arm: 60.

  8. 8. Xavier Edwards | 2B
    Xavier Edwards
    Born: Aug 9, 1999
    Bats: B Throws: R
    Ht.: 5'10" Wt.: 175
    Drafted/Signed: HS--Coconut Creek, Fla., 2018 (1st round supplemental).
    Signed By: Brian Cruz (Padres).
    Minors: .302/.377/.368 | 0 HR | 19 SB | 291 AB

    BA Grade: 50/Medium

    Track Record: The Rays acquired Edwards along with Hunter Renfroe in the 2019 trade that sent Tommy Pham and Jake Cronenworth to San Diego. Unless Edwards blossoms, it may end up as one of the rare trades the Rays would like to take back. Edwards has hit over .300 at every step of his MiLB career. He officially has one career home run, but he did add a wall-scraping grand slam for Montgomery in the Double-A South postseason.

    Scouting Report: Edwards is as comfortable with two strikes as most hitters are when they are ahead in the count because he knows he can connect with almost anything. But Edwards also scares no pitcher because he subsists on a diet of singles—just 17% of his career hits have gone for extra bases. He will need to drive the ball more consistently to have a successful MLB career. Edwards didn’t play a game at shortstop in 2021 and now projects as purely a second baseman. He’s an above-average defender there thanks to quick hands and feet. Once a top-of-the-scale runner, Edwards now more regularly turns in plus times although he will turn in a plus-plus time at his best. Edwards wasn’t nearly the threat on the bases he’d shown in the past, but an oblique injury may have played a role in that.

    The Future: Edwards’ exceptional contact ability, athleticism and speed gives him a role in the majors even if he doesn’t get stronger. But the difference between him being a useful role player and a David Fletcher/Nick Madrigal-type regular will depend on him adding at least a little power to his contact-oriented approach.

    Scouting Grades: Hit: 70. Power: 20. Speed: 70. Fielding: 55. Arm: 45.

  9. 9. Cole Wilcox | RHP
    Cole Wilcox
    Born: Jul 14, 1999
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'5" Wt.: 232
    Drafted/Signed: Georgia, 2020 (3rd round).
    Signed By: Tyler Stubblefield. (Padres)
    Minors: 1-0 | 2.03 ERA | 52 SO | 5 BB | 45 IP

    BA Grade: 55/Extreme

    Track Record: Wilcox twice slid in the draft because of his asking price, but the Padres paid him a third-round record $3.3 million (which topped the bonus of 11 first-rounders in that year’s class). Wilcox never threw an official pitch for the Padres before being traded to the Rays in the deal that sent Blake Snell to San Diego. Wilcox was dominant for half a season at Low-A Charleston, but he injured his elbow in a June 27 start. After rehabbing the injury for two months, he had Tommy John surgery in September.

    Scouting Report: Wilcox has always had some length in his arm action and he will fly open early in his delivery sporadically. For all the concerns about his control, he’s walked less than one batter per nine innings over the abbreviated final season of his college career and his first year in pro ball combined. Wilcox pounds the zone with a mid-90s potentially plus fastball that has sink and run. He has touched 98-99 mph at his best. The heater sets up a plus high-80s slider that he commands even better than his fastball. It is a power pitch with tilt and modest depth when he doesn’t get on the side of it. His 84-88 mph fringe-average changeup has some sink but isn’t as effective or consistent.

    The Future: Wilcox is expected to miss the entirety of the 2022 season as he recovers from Tommy John surgery. He should be full speed for spring training in 2023. If he makes a full recovery, he gives the Rays yet another very promising future starter with a fallback option of being a power reliever.

    Scouting Grades: Fastball: 60. Slider: 60. Changeup: 45. Control: 50.

  10. 10. Willy Vasquez | SS
    Willy Vasquez
    Born: Sep 6, 2001
    Bats: R Throws: R
    Ht.: 6'0" Wt.: 191
    Signed By: Remmy Hernandez/Daniel Santana.
    Minors: .288/.382/.411 | 2 HR | 14 SB | 146 AB

    BA Grade: 55/Extreme

    Track Record: When Vasquez signed with the Rays in 2019, he was expected to be a third baseman in a Rays international class full of shortstops—the official MLB stats portal incorrectly lists him as a catcher. Two years later, Vasquez is proving to be the most polished shortstop of that signing class. He’s gotten bigger and stronger without losing any agility. After an excellent pro debut in the Florida Complex League, he was promoted to Low-A Charleston for the playoffs and helped the RiverDogs win their league title by ripping a bases-clearing three-run triple in the deciding game.

    Scouting Report: In 2014, the Rays acquired another Willy (Adames) in a trade with the Tigers. At the time, Adames was seen by many as someone who would outgrow shortstop, but he kept working on his agility to ensure he could remain at the position. Vasquez has a similar battle to fight, as he could outgrow shortstop, but he shows the body control, range and hands to stick there if he continues to make defensive development a focus. At the plate, Vasquez has the building blocks to be an above-average offensive player. He has above-average bat speed and has shown the ability already to drive a ball at 110-111 mph exit velocities at his best. Vasquez shows a solid understanding of the game at a young age and has developed into a team leader.

    The Future: The Rays have a slew of shortstop prospects in the lower levels of the minors, but Vasquez has one of the best combinations of offensive and defensive impact potential. He should be ready for Low-A in 2022, having gotten a brief glimpse of what it’s like to play in front of crowds to wrap up 2021.

    Scouting Grades: Hit: 55. Power: 50. Speed: 50. Fielding: 50. Arm: 55.

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